John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
User avatar
Kim OHara
Posts: 4968
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:47 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by Kim OHara » Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:14 am

retrofuturist wrote:The suttas show that his first foray into explaining the Dhamma to a passer-by wasn't particularly successful, so I assume he too had to grow as a teacher in order to improve his efficacy in that regard, and a more systematized curriculum may have facilitated that.

Metta,
Retro. :)
I'm glad we agree: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 63#p191490. ;)

:namaste:
Kim

Nyana
Posts: 2233
Joined: Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:56 am

Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by Nyana » Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:58 am

mikenz66 wrote:1. Differences between schools. Most are, as Geoff says, narrative, so not particularly important. A few are doctrinal, such as the permanence of awakening:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=11630" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Yes, this sort of thing did occur. But it's not very common in the Nikāyas & Āgamas. The main doctrines and meditation practices found repeated in the vast majority of suttas are common to the discourse collections of all early schools. It's also rather easy to spot these sectarian additions by comparing different redactions of the same sutta.
mikenz66 wrote:2. Whether the lists we have in the Nikayas are how the Buddha actually taught, or the result of pre-sectarian rationalization.

If those Sutta Nipata texts are how the Buddha actually taught (or how he taught early in his ministry) then the style of the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html, and the other "early discourses", are highly likely to be a retro-fits.
And this is entirely plausible, but always speculative. Having read a number of different modern theories proposing criteria for establishing the earliest discourses, as well as the criticisms of these theories, I'm quite happy to set this line of investigation aside as unnecessary and inconsequential. The methodology of textual criticism is not able and will never be able to demonstrate what the historical Buddha actually taught with any degree of certainty. This is why a useful distinction can be made between Original Buddhism and Early Buddhism. Original Buddhism refers to the actual oral teachings of the historical Gotama and his immediate disciples. Early Buddhism refers to the early formative pre-sectarian period of Indian Buddhism and the extant textual documents which claim to be records of the Buddha's teachings as remembered by his immediate disciples after his death.

And while we can infer some significant information about the early pre-sectarian period of Indian Buddhism with the help of text-critical analysis of the extant discourses, we will never be able to prove with any degree of certainty which of these doctrines and training rules actually originated with the Buddha himself and which are the product of the first few generations of his disciples.

What is clearly evident, however, is that the vast majority of discourses which survive share common doctrines and practices which are original and unique in the history of ancient Indian thought, and are therefore likely rooted in the ideas and practices developed and taught by one remarkable historical person, namely the samaṇa Gotama.

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16281
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 11:09 am

Thanks Geoff, for clarifying that distinction between Original Buddhism and Early Buddhism.

:anjali:
Mike

User avatar
Alex123
Posts: 3476
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:32 pm

Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by Alex123 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 2:03 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Here is the problem. We believe that they didn't misunderstand the message, and said it like it was.

Unfortunately it is not always so simple. There is evidence that Mahāsāṃghika school had the earliest Vinaya and one of the major differences was that it portrayed Devadatta... as a saint... In Theravada suttas and especially the Jatakas, Devadatta is portrayed as super evil monk.

Why am I sad about this? If due to politics suttas could be altered... Who knows what other alterations took place...
These differences in narrative are rather insignificant and don't affect the soteriological teachings. I've read a fair bit of discourses from other schools which are still extant. And overall, they share a high degree of doctrinal consistency. The inconsistencies generally occur in the narrative story-lines that accompany sutta & vinaya, and this could be due to a number of factors, but this doesn't adversely affect the doctrinal content.
Hello Geoff, my concern and sadness is not due to specific difference (Was Devadatta a saint or a villain) but the fact that politics could alter the message in the suttas. Who knows what other, agreed upon, alterations could have taken place. Also unintentional literalism, mistakes, etc, could have been made at the first Council and then the later schools would un-intentionally copy those misunderstandings.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

User avatar
Alex123
Posts: 3476
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:32 pm

Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by Alex123 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 2:11 pm

manas wrote:
Alex123 wrote: Why am I sad about this? If due to politics suttas could be altered... Who knows what other alterations took place...
Alex, I think you already know the following, so this is just a gentle reminder: don't let questions of authenticity get you down. Gosh, how I used to let this worry me, and I must admit I still get nervous about it. But the very best solution is to put what we read in the suttas to the test. If you are worried about 'observer bias' then don't even go in with the assumption that the suttas are necessarily going to be proven correct. Just investigate deeply and fearlessly. We will get to the heart of things one day.

:anjali:

Yes, this is what I am left is + interpretation of various teachers and me. I guess we cannot be totally sure about hair-splitting analysis of some vague pali terms from advanced philosophical teachings that Buddha may not have even said in Pali.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

suttametta
Posts: 289
Joined: Sun May 06, 2012 2:55 pm

Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by suttametta » Sun Jun 03, 2012 4:35 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:
suttametta wrote: It seems to me that what really happened was that the traditions that arose in the name of the Buddha actually broke the tradition the Buddha was trying to create ...
You could say exactly the same about Christ and Christianity (and about Jefferson and US democracy, and Marx and Communism, for that matter) and we occasionally hear murmurings along the same lines from Islamists.
It seems to be a rule of human nature or history.
:thinking:

Kim
That's an excellent point. The impetus is on the individual to find the true heart of a master's message. Relying on traditions or socially approved versions will always lead a person into hell.

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16281
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:24 pm

Hi Kim,
Kim O'Hara wrote:I will agree - and add that this passage ...
Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta wrote:On hearing the earth-gods' cry, all the gods in turn in the six paradises of the sensual sphere took up the cry till it reached beyond the Retinue of High Divinity in the sphere of pure form. And so indeed in that hour, at that moment, the cry soared up to the World of High Divinity, and this ten-thousandfold world-element shook and rocked and quaked, and a great measureless radiance surpassing the very nature of the gods was displayed in the world.
... is in what I think of as a 'later' style. My rule of thumb is that the more divinities and heavens are mentioned, the closer we are to the Mahayana teachings. :thinking:
I don't necessarily disagree, but my main point about comparing the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta vs those old Sutta Nipata verses I was that the lists (4 noble truths, 8-fold path) don't appear in the Snp. Of course the 4NT and the N8P is implied in the Snp verses, as I discussed above.

:anjali:
Mike

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16281
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:32 pm

Hi Alex,
Alex123 wrote: Yes, this is what I am left is + interpretation of various teachers and me. I guess we cannot be totally sure about hair-splitting analysis of some vague pali terms from advanced philosophical teachings that Buddha may not have even said in Pali.
Yes we can be thankful that we have a living tradition...

As for hair-splitting analysis, one doesn't need historical concerns to form an opinion about that. :tongue:

:anjali:
Mike

User avatar
LonesomeYogurt
Posts: 900
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:24 pm
Location: America

Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by LonesomeYogurt » Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:16 pm

suttametta wrote:At times he contradicts himself; there is the passage about the monk who attained Arahatship while slitting his own throat, and then he makes a vinaya rule about not throwing yourself off a cliff.
There is no doctrinal contradiction here. Both rules refer to specific situations. As you said, the Buddha was great at adapting his teaching to different circumstances, and one law on suicide doesn't necessarily negate a statement praising total unattachment to the body.

There are other passages where the twelve links are describes in various ways. All of this makes it clear we were not dealing with an omniscient god-man, but a human problem solver, otherwise, he could have said, "Monks these are going to be the rules that will work for all time, these and no others." So if we are going to be "buddhas" we need to emulate the behavior that stays true to tradition and be problem solvers. At this time, as much as we owe a debt to the various buddhist traditions, they are all entrenched deeply in the same problem the Buddha was confronted with, how to make the teachings work in society. If anything is sacred in buddhism it's the problem of suffering and how to solve it. Aside from that, everything else is subject to change without further notice (I'm simplifying, but I hope you get my point). Thanks for taking time to see this.
No one thinks the Buddha was a God-man, and even his omniscience is either heavily restricted (in that all knowledge is only potentially available) or rejected outright. Your desire for modernism and skeptical inquiry is important and valuable but be careful you don't make strawmen out of those who are deeply committed to the truth of the suttas.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.

suttametta
Posts: 289
Joined: Sun May 06, 2012 2:55 pm

Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by suttametta » Mon Jun 04, 2012 10:36 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote: There is no doctrinal contradiction here. Both rules refer to specific situations. As you said, the Buddha was great at adapting his teaching to different circumstances, and one law on suicide doesn't necessarily negate a statement praising total unattachment to the body.
This is the sort of legalistic reasoning that comes from trial and error; the trial and error part is what I'm trying to emphasize.
No one thinks the Buddha was a God-man, and even his omniscience is either heavily restricted (in that all knowledge is only potentially available) or rejected outright. Your desire for modernism and skeptical inquiry is important and valuable but be careful you don't make strawmen out of those who are deeply committed to the truth of the suttas.
Noted. Many do think he was a god-man, beyond human, beyond the scope of human intellectual understanding, even beyond the scope of a god's intellectual understanding. In any event, I don't mean to say the suttas are not true, but that the doctrinal schools have made untrue assumptions about the suttas.

User avatar
Dhammanando
Posts: 4028
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:44 pm
Location: Ban Sri Pradu Cremation Ground, Phrao District, Chiangmai

Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by Dhammanando » Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:20 am

suttametta wrote:I write the following at the risk of

At times he contradicts himself; there is the passage about the monk who attained Arahatship while slitting his own throat, and then he makes a vinaya rule about not throwing yourself off a cliff.
The Vinaya prohibition you mention was laid down in the aftermath of a suicidal bhikkhu jumping off a cliff and surviving the fall but snuffing the unfortunate fellow he landed on. However, the rule itself speaks only of "throwing oneself off" and says nothing of cliffs. The prevailing interpretation in Thailand takes the rule as prohibiting bhikkhus from jumping from any high place for any reason whatever. According to this view the rule has no essential connection with suicide. For example, many years ago in a Thai monastery library I happened to jump down from a stool after retrieving a book from a high shelf. The librarian monk, a Vinaya scholar, came over and gave me a dressing down for (in his view) breaking this rule and told me that in future I should climb down, rather than jump, whenever there was a need to get from a high place to a low one.[*]

On the other hand, among the Sinhalese it seems that "throwing oneself off" is widely understood to be an idiomatic expression that covers all conceivable methods of killing oneself. This is the interpretation given by Ven. Thanissaro in his Monastic Code and was also my own understanding when I (with no suicidal intent) jumped off the library stool. In the years since then I've heard some clever arguments for both readings, but without finding either entirely compelling. My current policy is to play it safe by neither killing myself nor jumping off stools.

But to come to the point, no matter which reading of the rule we go with, it doesn't contradict the fact that certain bhikkhu disciples attained arahatta in the act of killing themselves. If the rule does indeed prohibit suicide, then it simply means that they attained arahatta after committing a dukkata offence (which is very minor and not the sort of offence that impedes dhammaabhisamaya). If the rule doesn't prohibit suicide, then they wouldn't even have committed a dukkata, for none are reported to have opted for leaping from high places as their chosen method.

Notes:
[*] And applying the Great References, presumably the rule would also include leaping from low places to high ones, thus barring bhikkhus from emulating the rather salubrious-looking practice of the Sisters of St. Beryl:

http://youtu.be/YK9kg-Ngz0Q" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://youtu.be/GV_A7YeOhfs" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

danieLion
Posts: 1947
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:49 am

Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by danieLion » Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:27 am

This post http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 40#p186393" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; and the Topic it's from might be of relevance.
metta

suttametta
Posts: 289
Joined: Sun May 06, 2012 2:55 pm

Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by suttametta » Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:30 am

Bhante, With respect, I find the reasoning presented to be humorous. I can't take it seriously. It just seems to me that the Buddha's rulings were ad hoc.

User avatar
robertk
Posts: 2802
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:08 am

Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by robertk » Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:42 am

Yes they were ad hoc. That is the way the Vinaya was set , the Buddha waited until the right occasion to set or alter the rules.

User avatar
daverupa
Posts: 5980
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by daverupa » Tue Jun 05, 2012 11:49 am

While I don't think this was mentioned in the OP, nevertheless is it not the case that the variegated Sutta transmissions we have differ less than the variegated Vinaya transmissions? I'm half-remembering a footnote in a Gombrich book to the effect that, while he could accept the early provenance of much of the Big Four Nikayas, the Vinaya was an altogether different matter (most of the patimokkha being an exception), but he didn't develop the comment.

I've read some Mula-Sarvastivada Vinaya translations by Schopen which depict the Buddha giving advice on what amounts to money loans at monasteries, which seems strikingly out of place. The Councils were also mostly Vinaya disputes, yes? It all begins to support the idea that scholastic differences are strongly represented in the Vinayas, but not so much in the Suttas...
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests